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GP Week : Issue 70
Aoyama counts the points for 250 clincher THE last undecided championship is canted heavily in favour of Hiroshi Aoyama, who has a 21- point advantage over Marco Simoncelli as they go to the last race. The Japanese rider already has a tentative grasp on Honda's most embarrassing World Championship. But it puts him in an exposed position, and the Japanese rider has been contemplating his tactics. With a 21 point lead, Aoyama needs only to cruise in the race. If Simoncelli were to win, then 11th place would be enough to secure the crown for the Japanese rider. (He needs to be better than equal on points, because he has only four race wins, while it would be Simoncelli's seventh.) But cruising in the middle of the pack exposes a rider to the risk of involvement in someone else's accident. It will be no less torrid at the front, however. Aprilia rider Hector Barbera is only 17 points adrift of Simoncelli, and thus has a slim chance of taking second overall from the Italian. Riding close to his home near Valencia, Barbera will have a full head of steam. MotoGP still has some positional grudges to settle as well. If Stoner was to win and Lorenzo fail to finish, they would be equal on points but Stoner would get the place, with five wins to four. In the same way, a win for Pedrosa and a non-finish for Stoner would put the Spaniard third and the Australian fourth. Dovizioso needs to finish well clear of Edwards, who is just four points adrift and homing in on fifth. But the fight for seventh is wide open: Melandri and Capirossi are equal on 108 points, de Angelis and Elias on 103, and Hayden has 93. Who-goes-where frenzy as Moto2 crunch time nears THE rider market for Moto2, next year's 250 replacement class, is in something of a whirlwind, as the deadline approaches for teams to make a final commitment to the class. A number of teams have already paid the required goodwill deposit of US$25,000 for each rider, but there are others yet to confirm, and a number of reserve teams hanging on in the certainty that some places will become vacant. At the same time, riders are scrambling for positions within teams, with fierce opposition for places. Only a few riders have been confirmed, with the Aspar team among the first. It will field 125 champion Julian Simon and his predecessor Mike di Meglio, who made an impressive 250 debut for the team. This leaves Bradley Smith consigned to another year in 125s with the team (Nico Terol has been signed as his team- mate), unless he can find a place in Moto2. Fellow-Briton Scott Redding is also seeking a move up to the new class. Four riders are now all but certain to move down from MotoGP. Toni Elias has turned his back on a ride with the Sito Pons Moto2 team, citing differences with the former double-250 champion team owner (current Pons 250 rider Barbera went on strike briefly at the last round, for the same reason). The Spaniard is now favourite for a spot in the Gresini team, his current MotoGP employers. Team-mate Alex de Angelis, his MotoGP hopes dwindling, is a strong candidate for one of two Tech 3 rides. Team chief Hervé Poncharal said no decision had been made pending sponsorship, and that he was also still talking to several other riders including Jules Cluzel, Elias, Yuki Takahashi and Niccolò Canepa, the third MotoGP refugee. The fourth will probably be Gabor Talmacsi, with Team Scot now contemplating Moto2 as its hopes of staying in MotoGP dwindle. Last chance for championship grudges 14